Summer is around the corner, so now is the time to start planning your annual vacation. With the help of a credit card sign-up bonus, you might be able to get a portion of that trip for free.
Here are three of the Nerds’ favorite cards if you’re looking for a big sign-up bonus and stellar ongoing travel perks.
If you’re a frequent flyer aficionado: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Generally, Ultimate Rewards points are worth $.01 apiece, but their value increases by 25% when redeemed for travel through Chase. Also, you’ll be able to transfer your points to participating frequent traveler programs at a 1:1 ratio. This includes Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, United MileagePlus, British Airways Executive Club and others, giving miles hounds many ways to use their points.
Also, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card charges no foreign transaction fees and comes chip-enabled. This will make using your card overseas simultaneously less expensive and more convenient.
Now for the exciting part, the sign-up bonus: With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you’ll Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. That’s worth $625 in travel if you book through Chase, and possibly more if you’re good at hacking frequent flyer award charts.
That hefty sign-up bonus could go a long way toward offsetting the cost of a summer trip. Just keep in mind that the card charges an $0 for the first year, then $95.
If you’re a budget traveler: Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
In addition, cashing in your miles is a piece of cake with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®. You’ll book your travel as you normally would with the card, then go online and redeem your rewards for a statement credit against those purchases. Because discount travel sites are typically coded as “travel,” you’ll be able to score a great deal on your trip and use your credit card rewards to pay for it.
Like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® charges no foreign transaction fees. It also comes chip-enabled with PIN capability, so it’s ideal for international use.
Its sign-up bonus is impressive: Enjoy 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — that's enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit toward an eligible travel purchase. Its annual fee is $0 for the first year, then $89.
If you can get away only for a weekend: Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express provides an exciting sign-up bonus: Earn 25,000 Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Terms Apply. Because award nights start at only 2,000 Starpoints for a weekend stay, this could be plenty to get you a few free, short getaways this summer.
You can also use your Starpoints to book a flight or transfer them to over 30 participating frequent flyer programs, among other redemption options.
The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express charges an annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $95. With no foreign transaction fee, it’s not a bad card to use abroad, even though American Express may not be accepted as widely outside the U.S.
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